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Pope's peace messenger has face to face with Bush

Pleading for peace, an emissary from Pope John Paul II has questioned US President Bush on whether he's doing all he could to avert what the envoy called an "unjust" war with Iraq.

Bush said removing Saddam Hussein would make the world more peaceful.

The president met with Cardinal Pio Laghi, a former Vatican ambassador to the United States and a Bush family friend, on Ash Wednesday.

Bush told Laghi in a 40-minute meeting that "if it comes to the use of force, he believes it will make the world better," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who attended the private meeting.

"Removing the threat to the region will lead to a better, more peaceful world in which innocent Iraqis will have a better life."

Laghi came bearing the pope's message: A war would be a "defeat for humanity" and would be neither morally nor legally justified.

In a letter to Bush, the pope stood by his view that a pre-emptive strike on Iraq is immoral "unless it gets backed" by the United Nations.

"I assure you, Mr. President, that I am praying for you and for America," the pope wrote, according to Laghi. "I ask the Lord to inspire you to search for the ways of a stable peace, the noblest of human endeavours."


[New Norcia, Western Australia] Peace torch lights town (The West Australian)
Pope Urges Catholics to Pray for Peace (AP)
Bush meets pope's envoy (AP)
Pope urges world to avoid conflict in Iraq (HiPakistan)
[Comment:] Pope has zeal, but no answers
U.S.: Papal Envoy Spreads Antiwar Message (Radio Free Europe)
Catholics Debating: Back President or Pope on Iraq? (New York Times)
Thousands in Australian street protests (AP)
Papal envoy's peace plea to President falls on deaf ears (AP)
Behind U.S.-Vatican rift on Iraq, doubts about one-superpower world (Catholic News Service)
Pope meets Italian officials in ongoing efforts to prevent Iraqi war (Catholic News Service)
Never Too Late for Peace, Says Pope (Zenit)
Pope urges leaders to examine conscience (Dawn, Pakistan)
Vatican Weighs In Against War (Washington Post)
Papal envoy meets Bush, reiterates Vatican opposition to Iraqi war (Catholic News Service)
Catholic Actor claims to receive hate mail [for anti-war views] (Premier)
Esperance [Western Australia] does its bit for peace
Prayer and Fasting Are Weapons of Peace, Says John Paul II (Zenit)
Spokesman denies rumour of papal dash to UN in New York (6/3/03)

7 Mar 2003